SOMWaD: Portal to Hell...

I've discovered it.  Well maybe not discovered.  I was shown the portal.  Well, actually, I've known about the portal for a couple of years, but now it has evolved into the portal to hell.

What is this portal that I speak of?  It's the Parent Portal!  Now that I've discovered its new properties, I'm obsessed with it.  It is my portal to hell!

Back when my son was in elementary school, the portal was dull.  I logged in four times a year when report cards came out.  It was the ONLY way to view his grades. Hard copies had been abolished, which was fine by me.  Why waste more paper?  Save the planet, right?  The only problem I saw with it was that unless you knew exactly WHEN the report cards were coming out, you might forget about it.  Which I did several times in 2nd grade.  At that point, there was no reminder from the school and unlike the paper copies, which you had to sign and return to school, there was no way to track if a parent had seen the grades or not.  At least not that I was aware of.   At one point, over a month had gone by before I realized that it had been way too long since I had seen a report card and went poking around and found his report card on line.  After that I made a calendar note to myself on the dates I needed to check.  I'm sure I wasn't the only one who forgot, as a year or so later, the elementary school principal started to send out email reminders.  The other downside was on the last day of school, you couldn't see the grades until school was out for the year and you couldn't share with your friends who your teacher for the next year was.  (There was no cheating...the grades and all comments did not go up on the site until 5 minutes after classes were dismissed.)

Now that my son is in middle school, it's a whole different story.  He has multiple teachers and classes.  I can check what is going on with each at the individual teacher's website:  daily homework assignments, upcoming tests, etc.  But on the portal I can see what his grades are for each.  Daily homework, classwork and tests/quizzes are all there for me to see.  For each subject there is a column of points achieved, total points available for the assignment and grade/percentage.  (For example:  points achieved:  3, total points for the project:  4, grade:  C 75%).

Although the portal may have been around for a while, we (the "new" parents/the parents of 5th graders) only got access this week.  (Technical problems; of which I still believe there are a few.)  My husband was the first one to check it out and call me with our son's grades.  (Which is when we found the first of a couple of glitches:  it appeared my son had gotten a 24 on an assignment in social studies (a subject is does well in).  By the end of the day it had been updated/changed to 24 out of 24, thus resulting in a grade of A 100%.

When I got home and was able to access the portal, I quickly became obsessed.  I started sorting and searching.  While this was our first day/week of being able to access the portal, the entries went back to the first week of school.  I was able to confirm his strengths (art, social studies and science) and his weakness (math).  I could also see where he was on the fence (more effort needed to be put into French and Literacy.)  I also nearly fell off my chair when I saw that he missed a homework assignment!  Needless to say, whether he gets credit or not (since it is way past it's due date), my son WILL be working on that assignment (along with another one that was not completed) this weekend.  (You can see that this is definitely a portal to HELL for my kid.)

I've gotten in the habit of checking the portal every night to see what's going on.  When I saw that his A in social studies had slipped to a B due to a poor grade on a test, I emailed the teacher to find out what had gone wrong.  (Haven't heard back yet.)  He's done very well on everything thus far, so I want to know what aspect he might need some help with or did not understand.

For me, although grades are important, it's more about staying on an even keel.  (I don't expect him to suddenly get an A in math when he's been struggling and working hard on it.  I DO expect him to keep up with the good work that he has done.)  But I can see how this could also turn into a true obsession.  (When with the score for that math test he took show up?  Is he doing better or are we still struggling?)  

What I want to do is use this as a tool.  When I see that he has a test or an assignment coming up, I'll ask him about it.  If he seems clueless, then I'll point him in the right direction AND I'll remind him (again) how important it is to pay attention in class and write down in his planner notes.  I'll do my best NOT to hover.  (Although I may fail at that.)  He is at that time in his life where he is starting to be more responsible for things and he needs to be responsible for his school work.  He needs to take pride in his work. But he's still young and this portal can help me gently prod him when he needs it.

Unless I let it gets the better of me; and then it becomes the portal to hell.  So I'd better keep myself on an even keel. And when I start obsessing too much, it's time to close the door to the portal, turn off the computer and do something mindless.  I will have to learn to use the portal; and not let it use me. Only time will tell how I make out on that front.


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